Catholic Diocese’s Initiative to Address Plight of Nigeria’s “over 10 million out-of-school children” in the North

Fr. Maurice Kwairanga, a Catholic Priest of Nigeria's Yola Diocese, coordinating the project for the construction of a new primary and secondary school in Northern Nigeria to address the plight of out-of-school children.

The Catholic Diocese of Yola is spearheading a project for the construction of a new primary and secondary school in Northern Nigeria to address the plight of out-of-school children, who are in millions across the West African nation.

According to a United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) report, “In Nigeria, about 10.5 million children are not in school even though primary education is officially free and compulsory”.

In an interview with ACI Africa, the Coordinator of the project, Fr. Maurice Kwairanga, shared about the new learning institution in Ngurore, Adamawa State, the foundation stone having been laid on June 3, the Feast of St. Charles Lwanga and companions

“The public school in Ngurore is prone to high criminal activities, childhood prostitution, and drugs. it's a commercial area where trailer drivers from all over Nigeria pass through to bring goods to North East Nigeria,” Fr. Kwairanga said during the Monday, July 8 interview.

He added, “Most of those youth exposed to this kind of danger are Christian youths.”


The Nigerian Catholic Priest, who also serves as Coordinator of the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of Yola Diocese emphasized the dual mission of the school to provide quality education and to inculcate strong moral values based on Catholic teachings.

“By setting up this school, we are bringing learning to the doorstep of our children, many of whom are exposed to various dangers,” he said.

Fr. Kwairanga added, “It is something that is going to take some years because we are building it ourselves. If help comes from others, we'll be grateful, but we are not imagining that somebody is going to give us a large chunk of money, but through local support, we will continue to build the school step by step and we believe that we will get there one day.”

“We have to support the young people that is why we are investing in the future. This school is open to Catholics, other Christians, and even to Muslims if they wish to send their children here,” he said.

The Catholic Priest went on to appeal for support, saying, “We invite people of goodwill to be part of this project. They can donate building materials and whatever way they can for us be able to realize this project.”

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The JDPC Coordinator, who doubles as Parish Priest of St. Charles Lwanga Parish of Yola Diocese underscored the need for a Catholic-based education in the region, which is dominated by Islamic schools and public institutions that do not cater for the Christian faith. 

“Most of the schools around are Islamic schools; some of our Christian and Catholic children often attend Islamic schools or other Protestant schools where Catholic doctrine is not taught,” he said.

The Catholic Priest continued, “Some of the Islamic schools and public schools in the whole of that area are not allowed to teach Christian religion. We are establishing this school because we cannot fold our arms and allow our children to grow up in confusion.”

He went on to identify insecurity and poverty as major contributors to the region’s educational crisis. Fr. Kwairanga said, “The biggest challenge facing us is the over 10 million out-of-school children; most of them are based in the northern part of Nigeria. This is due to the insecurity and the high level of poverty in these areas.”

The number of people living in multidimensional poverty in Nigeria has surged from 87 million to over 130 million, exacerbating the situation, he further said.


He explained that pervasive insecurity, marked by frequent kidnappings and attacks by Boko Haram, has made parents reluctant to send their children to school. 

“The insecurity has discouraged even those who have sent their children to school and the children themselves, seeing that kidnapping is very rampant, boarding schools in isolated areas with low fences, bandits and Boko Haram members being able to take away students, especially female students. People are afraid to send their children to school,” the Catholic Priest lamented.

In response to these security concerns, members of the Clergy of Yola Diocese have been working with their partners to ensure the safety of students and staff at the new school, he said.

“Since 2014, we have been part of the Safe School initiative started by the government, UNICEF, and other agencies, and we are very conscious of providing security in our learning areas,” Fr. Kwairanga told ACI Africa during the July 8 interview. 

He added, “In all our schools, we have the presence of security, and we work closely with the police division in that area to keep an eye from time to time, offer surveillance, gather intelligence; in case of any threat to lives or property, we will be able to take immediate action.”

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“We work with the vigilante to also order community security networks in these areas, gathering intelligence that may be useful for the safety of our pupils and the teachers, and we also work to offer support, psychosocial support to traumatized pupils and teachers to help them cope with what has happened,” Fr. Kwairanga told ACI Africa July 8.

Abah Anthony John is a Nigerian Journalist with great enthusiasm and interest for Catholic Church Communication and Media Apostolate. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from Benue State University, Makurdi, Benue State Nigeria. He has vast experience in Print,  Electronic and Multi-Media Production.